By Margot Birbeck Head inQuba Customer Success
The debate about the role of Customer Experience in B2C vs. B2B increases as business organisations establish CX programs and consumer organisations expand into business service offerings.
Whilst views differ in terms of CX application, measurement design and operating models the point of agreement is that customer centricity is equally relevant to both B2B and B2C.
It is also important to quickly dispel the myth that B2B buying decisions are rational and that customer experience has little bearing. This is absolutely untrue as business decisions are still influenced by factors such as relationships and reputations. Colin Shaw and Ryan Hamilton provide excellent insight into this in their book, ‘The Intuitive Customer’. Business customers certainly do have expectations and are not so unlike consumers whom expect better responsiveness and quicker resolutions.
There are however numerous considerations when embarking on a B2B CX Program. The most important is that within each business there may be multiple human contacts.
Each person has a different role with different expectations and who may have different experiences with your organisations. By mapping this into your CX program, all customer contacts are considered and the right people are asked the right questions at the right time, allowing you to ultimately listen to your customers, learn from their insights, share this information across your business operation and respond back to your customer with context. For example, the finance department will expect accurate and timely invoices whereby your technical contact requires quick resolution to all queries. It is also important that CX performance reporting considers the contact roles both in terms of relevance to different internal teams as well as weighting. Buyers vs. users require different experiences.
Customer Journeys in B2B can also be complex as customers traverse multiple experiences and touchpoints which can differ vastly depending on the customer role, type of customer and the type and combination of products.
B2B customer journeys should be fluid with dynamic measurement for personalised feedback and engagement. This ensures that the program is relevant and impactful.
“What must I measure?” becomes the next important question but increasingly less relevant with the increase of qualitative analysis on unstructured data using advanced text analytics. Organisations however still need a number to benchmark and track. Whether an NPS, Loyalty or Satisfaction approach is selected it should have the ability to measure at each level in your customer journey – Loyalty, Experience and Touchpoint. Popular measures currently in B2B programs include communication (quality and frequency), business value add, responsiveness, speed of resolution, ability to understand expectations and ease of process. The underlying customer stories, pain points and joys will however reveal themselves in the free text comments.
Population sizes and interaction volumes can also be significantly smaller in B2B thus presenting a number challenges such as achieving significantly relevant response rates. This can often be overcome by using a combination of feedback channels with telephone as a primary channel.
The operational model required in B2B can be complex as many functions are responsible for customer experience delivery, often with multiple handoff points. The value of each B2B client is typically much higher than B2C, i.e. the cost of churn is significant and it is therefore critical to maintain and grow each client relationship – every opportunity for feedback counts. It is critical that operational accountability is mapped to every touchpoint in the customer journey and that relevant feedback and performance is delivered to the responsible operational teams timeously.
In summary, Customer Experience is equally important for B2B but requires additional considerations such as client structures (types, sites, product and multiple contact roles), dynamic customer experience journeys and complex operating models required for CX transformation.
inQuba has been designed from the ground up to support these requirements and enable B2B organisations on their journey to CX Orchestration.